A belated -- but still timely -- posting from The Real Deal.
September 12, 12:08 pm
Brooklyn neighborhoods suffer the G effect
As Brooklyn neighborhoods like Greenpoint and Clinton Hill grow, so does disdain for the G train, which brokers and developers say is unreliable enough to hold down property values in areas that depend on it.
As riders have increased, the G trains have shortened and become less frequent. A coalition of community groups dedicated to improving the line, called Save the G, recently re-launched its website and renewed its campaign to add more cars to the train and increase its frequency during off-peak hours.
"Growing areas, like Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens and Clinton Hill have strained the G line," said Teresa Toro, founder of Save the G and Community Board 1's transportation chair.
The number of riders per year at G-only stations has increased from 8.6 million in 1995 to 12.6 million in 2006, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Critics say the trains are overcrowded.
Some developers say the G train helps keep home prices lower in Clinton Hill than in neighboring Fort Greene, and that improvements would make selling and renting properties easier in all G-serviced neighborhoods.
"It is more difficult to lease or sell a property that is serviced by the G train," said David Maundrell, president of aptsandlofts.com, a Williamsburg-based brokerage. "The way we combat that is we discount our prices."
Maundrell said a Greenpoint apartment could cost 10 to 20 percent less than in nearby Williamsburg, which has better subway service.
In 2001, the MTA cut G service at 13 of its 15 Queens stops during weekdays, keeping only Court Square in Long Island City active. Two cars were removed from each G train, and the six-car G train -- already shorter than average -- became just four cars. The train's frequency also decreased. An MTA spokesman did not return calls.
"It may seem like a small difference, but while with six cars there was no overcrowding, with four cars there now is," Toro said.
In North Brooklyn, the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning allowed denser residential projects to come to G-serviced areas.
At the 84 Eagle Street condominiums, off of Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, residents will rely on the G train, with the L over 20 blocks away. A 980-square-foot one-bedroom that will sell for about $535,000 would sell for at least $625,000 in Williamsburg, Maundrell said. The apartments, which will be ready this winter, will range from 750 to 1,000 square feet, and be priced from $535,000 to $689,000.
Maundrell said that an improved G train would make Greenpoint's properties as valuable as Williamsburg's.
"There are parts of Greenpoint that are landmarked; you walk down the street and you feel like you're in Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights," he said.
The Mynt, an aptsandlofts.com-brokered rental project on the edge of Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant, is just one block from the Myrtle-Willoughby G station. Its units are "leasing at a 10 to 15 percent discount from if the building was over a few blocks and closer to the A and the C train," Maundrell said. While the Mynt now rents for $32 to $35 per square foot annually, he said with a better G train it could easily hit $40 per square foot.
Some developers downplay the G train's effect on property values. The views at some Greenpoint properties make up for the subpar subway, said Highlyann Krasnow, executive vice president of the Developers Group, which markets properties in Clinton Hill, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
Krasnow said the Developers Group easily sold out the McCarren, a new Greenpoint development near the Nassau Avenue G stop with East River views. She also said she was confident that sales would be strong at the 110 Green Street Condominiums, going up near the Greenpoint Avenue G stop, one block from the waterfront. Magic Johnson's Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund is developing the six-story, 130-unit project.
Although the MTA has shown no signs of increasing G train service, it announced this spring that it will temporarily extend its service next year to five F train stops in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington. Charles Seaton, an MTA spokesman, said it would consider making the change permanent if the extension showed high ridership.
By James Kelly
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